A Billionaire Seems to Be Doing a Good Thing, But Let's Not Get Too Excited

Illustration for article titled A Billionaire Seems to Be Doing a Good Thing, But Let's Not Get Too Excited
Image: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

Here at Barf Bag my colleagues and I aim to blog the political news until we puke. We’re actually contractually obligated to keep a bucket by our desks and photograph its contents for our editors before we may hit “Publish.” Usually, I’m nauseated enough to publish by the first line of the first story, which normally involves a very rich person doing something very shitty to people who aren’t rich in order to stay rich or just for meanness’s sake. But today, it would appear that a rich person, Michael Bloomberg, has done something that is not terrible, and I don’t know how I’m to fill this bucket.


Bloomberg has reported raising $16 million in order to aid 32,000 Florida felons in paying outstanding fees so that they might regain good standing to vote. In conjunction with $5 million dedicated by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Bloomberg’s contribution means that many in Florida will be permitted to vote in the upcoming election, and additionally, “Voters who were already registered to vote, Black or Latino, and had fines and fees of less than $1500 were eligible for the payback initiative,” according to Axios.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Of course, it would be naive to call this move altruistic. Bloomberg and Donald Trump hate each other and will turn anything, whether it’s buying ads for the Super Bowl or helping felons buy back their voting rights, into a dick measuring contest. Bloomberg has vowed to win said competition, once and for all, by seeing Trump defeated. A Biden win in Florida would help ensure opportunity for Bloom to gloat, which is likely worth at least $16 million in his and other people’s money. And lest you be preparing to say something about gift horses and their mouths in the comments, Bloomberg also allegedly made working for him miserable, according to multiple reports of sexual and verbal harassment by former employees–including one tale in which Bloomberg, on being asked to name a sport that didn’t require balls, answered, “Lesbian sex.”

Oh good. There it is. Very much feel like retching. [Axios]

In a Barf that is awful from beginning to end, an incarcerated California man who spent years fighting wildfires was handed over to ICE by authorities upon his release from prison.

Kao Saelee was serving a 25-year sentence for an armed robbery that occurred in 1998, and had also worked as an inmate firefighter in 2018 and 2019. In exchange for his services putting out deadly blazes, he earned $1 an hour, which he says was better pay than he would earn in a prison job and also provided better food.

Saelee had aspirations of becoming a professional firefighter upon his release after California passed legislation that would permit incarcerated individuals who worked as firefighters while serving time to have their records expunged in order to qualify for firefighting jobs on the outside. Instead, on the day of his release, he was handed over to ICE, who further incarcerated him in a detention camp located in Pine Prairie, Louisiana, where he faces deportation to Laos, a country he has not seen since he was 8 years old. Saelee’s fate is a common one in California, where, despite protestations against the Trump administration’s brutal immigrant detention policy by Governor Gavin Newsom, hundreds of prisoners have faced further imprisonment upon their release from correctional facilities this year alone.


“When they said Louisiana, that was kind of scary to me,” Saelee told the Guardian. “I had never been this far from home.” His case is in limbo, as Laos also denies Saelee’s citizenship. [The Guardian]

  • Much the same way I used to hoard the money my mother earmarked for after-school snacks and use it to buy Beverly Hills 90210 character dolls, the Pentagon has spent its covid-19 mask money on jet engine parts and body armor. But unlike my mother, who was fine with my choices as long as I didn’t come home from school whining about being hungry, the Pentagon will most likely immediately begin begging for more jet engine/mask money from its over-indulgent parent, America, and get something like an additional three trillion. [Washington Post]
  • Betsey Devos may have violated the Hatch Act by criticizing Joe Biden on television, but if the Trump campaign event from the White House lawn didn’t warrant a response, it’s highly unlikely calling Joe Biden paltry little names on the telly is going to raise any alarms. [Washington Post]
  • Like Florida, her sister to the Old South, Georgia is also torn between two lovers, locked in a steamy tug of war for her heart and body that could either mean complete ruination or the promise of lasting healthcare protections and bodily autonomy. Whom will she choose? Find out November 3. [Politico]



You know what? Fine. I’m all for him spending his ill gotten gains on this. I’m not okaying or excusing his myriad crimes (THEY ARE CRIMES), he still should pay out the ass in civil suits and prison time for anything where the statues haven’t run out. But if some of Smaug’s hoard can actually be put to good use and stick Dump in the eye, fine.